A public meeting for the Thompson-Divide Complex of fires (Thompson, Granite, and Sheep) is scheduled for Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. at the Izaak Walton Hotel pavilion in Essex. Representatives from the Incident Management Team will provide information on the status of these fires and future operational plans.

The Thompson-Divide Complex is comprised of the Sheep and Granite Fires on the Flathead National Forest and the Thompson Fire in Glacier National Park. The Sheep fire is the incident priority as it is approaching US Hwy. 2 and the BNSF railway and is threatening the community of Essex.
 
Air operations will continue today with two Type 1 helicopters, a Sky Crane and Chinook working on hot spots, when visibility permits. A mobile fire retardant base is being used for helicopter retadant drops, along with water drops.
 
Highway 2 is open.  Pilot cars will run 24 hours a day through the fire area, but the highway could be closed due to changing fire conditions. Expect delays of 10-15 minutes.
 
The BNSF and Amtrak trains are running.  For more information on Amtrak call 1-(800) 872-7245.
 
Weather: All fires in the complex were less active yesterday than anticipated. The predicted fire weather watch, with gusty winds did not materialize. Smoke lingered until late afternoon, keeping the fire cooler and less active. An inversion is expected to set up for today as well, keeping fire activity moderated. If the forecast inversion lifts this afternoon, we may see increased fire activity. Isolated thunderstorms are expected for Wednesday through Friday. Temperatures are on the increase through this coming week under an unusual high pressure, with highs predicted 80-90 degrees in the valleys.
 

 

A Sikorsky Sky Crane Type-1 Helicopter drops fire retardant on the Thompson-Divide Complex’s Sheep Fire burning west of Highway 2 between Mile Markers 182 and 181 about 1 mile south of Essex, MT, Aug. 22, 2015. (photo Jonathan Moor, NPS)

The Sheep Fire is now 607 acres, and about 1 mile south of Essex on the Flathead National Forest. It is burning in very steep, difficult terrain with limited access.Up to 70 firefighters were transported across the river to the fire area on a BNSF work train. Crews built fuel breaks in the McDonald Creek Drainage to the north. Today they will create fireline from the railroad west up the Sheep Creek Drainage, supported by helicopters if not hindered by low visibility. Logging equipment has been ordered to remove fuels from the area. Logs being removed will be taken out by train to a safe location. Goals are to keep this fire from going north towards Essex and moving into the transportation corridor along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

Residents of Essex and the surrounding area have been advised that they may be evacuated if the Sheep Fire becomes an imminent threat.

The Granite Fire is west of Marias Pass and south of Hwy. 2 in the Great Bear Wilderness. It is burning on 289 acres in very steep terrain in a mixed conifer forest below a ridge.  The fire backed down in all directions yesterday. Crews have implemented structural protection measures on several backcountry cabins, trailhead structures, a wooden road bridge, and a radio repeater. Timber sale logging operations in the vicinity of the Granite Fire were completed yesterday, removing some potential fuels from the area. Three engines will be monitoring the fire and looking for opportunities to access the fire. Shaded fuel break in advance of the fire will be constructed with logging equipment.

 

Division A of the Thompson Fire from helicopter 64H as they flew to Triple Divide Pass in Glacier National Park on 8/22/15 at 1130 hrs. (NPS Photo)

The Thompson Fire is located in remote south-central backcountry of Glacier National Park about 15 miles east of the West Glacier entrance in the Thompson and Nyack drainage west of the Continental Divide. The fire showed little activity yesterday, and is now estimated at 16,584 acres. Firefighters were inserted by helicopter back into the Nyack Creek Drainage during the late afternoon to mop up and control fireline. Additional burnout may be done to clean up some fireline. Pumps and hose lay are in place in case a future need arises.

 Most of Glacier National Park is unaffected by this wildfire complex and is available for recreational use. Going-to-the-Sun Road is open. Limited backcountry closures are in place. For more specific visitor information, please see the website http://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm.